If you have a teenage child, then you know how difficult it can be to enforce early bedtimes on school nights. This can lead to a whole array of issues and fights that often spill over to the morning—when you’re trying your hardest to make sure that your kids are up and arrive at school on time. While it may seem as if your adolescent is just bucking you because you are the parent, research suggests that their lack of sleep may actually be to blame for their “unruliness.”
A paper published in Learning, Media and Technology, a quarterly journal formerly known as the Journal of Educational Media, addresses the fact that when students are in elementary school, their learning is more in line with their sleep patterns since classes don’t typically start until later in the morning. However, once they move up to junior high and high school, classes often start earlier, even though adolescents find it harder to get to sleep earlier (before 11 p.m.) due to biological changes that affect their circadian rhythm.
This misalignment not only makes them more tired, but it also affects their health and ability to retain information, says one lawmaker, New Jersey State Senator Richard J. Codey, which is why he is pushing legislation that opens up the issue of school start times, prompting the educational system to review whether or not their scheduled hours are helping or hurting the students who must abide by them. If Senator Codey’s bill passes, New Jersey would be able to modify school start times to later in the morning to see what impact, if any, it has on the teenage students and their overall test scores.
Until this happens, you’ll at least now understand that your teen’s crankiness or laziness might not be all their fault. It may just be that they are off rhythm with their sleep patterns, and some good ol’ quality ZZZs may significantly help—both them and you.